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Landscape vs. portrait

Choosing sides - landscape or portrait orientation...

Landscape orientation vs. portrait orientation

First, we should be able to recognize the landscape versus portrait orientations.

Landscape orientation

On modern digital cameras, a picture is automatically saved as a landscape orientation when you take it while holding the camera straight. The landscape orientation is used to take images of large groups of people, a spacious area of land or water, or regular videos.

1. Wider field of view

Landscape orientation is characterized by a horizontal frame, where the width of the image is greater than its height. It is often used to capture wide vistas, expansive landscapes, or scenes with a prominent horizon.

2. Emphasis on horizontal elements

The landscape orientation is well-suited for showcasing the breadth of a scene, emphasizing horizontal elements such as mountains, coastlines, or sweeping landscapes. It allows for a sense of spaciousness and provides room for incorporating foreground, midground, and background elements.

3. Panoramic effect

With its wider frame, landscape orientation can create a panoramic effect, capturing the grandeur and breadth of natural or urban environments. It is commonly employed in landscape photography, architectural photography, and capturing group shots or scenes with multiple subjects.

Portrait orientation

If you are holding the camera at a 90-degree angle, it will then be saved as portrait orientation. The portrait orientation is used to take a photo of individual, tall objects such as a lighthouse or skyscraper.

1. Taller frame

Portrait orientation features a vertical frame, where the height of the image is greater than its width. It is often used to capture subjects in a more vertical or upright format.

2. Emphasis on vertical elements

Portrait orientation is well-suited for emphasizing vertical elements, such as tall structures, trees, or people. It works effectively in portrait photography, street photography, or situations where the focus is on an individual or a single subject.

3. Intimate and personal feel

The portrait orientation allows for a closer view of the subject, making it ideal for capturing detailed expressions, emotions, or close-up shots. It can convey a sense of intimacy and depth in the composition.

4. Visual hierarchy

The vertical format of portrait orientation can enhance the visual hierarchy within the frame. It guides the viewer's eye vertically, allowing for a strong focus on the subject and potentially highlighting the interaction between foreground and background elements.

The world of portrait photography is full of people, portraits, animal portraits, and everything between the lines. Landscape photographers obviously take pictures of landscapes, or simply a background, a view.

Portrait and landscape differences lie in their general usage. Yes, people do debate the general usage when talking about landscape vs portrait. The good news is that most of the landscape and portrait photos have some similarities, which explains their orientation.

Landscape mode vs. portrait mode

There are some subtle differences in the heated debate about portrait vs. landscape mode. These become the essence of the portrait and landscape differences. The difference lies between the function of each mode. So, each mode has its own pre-programmed settings (if you use DSLR).

Portrait mode

The portrait mode setting is based on the assumption that you are taking a picture of someone’s face and making it so that your photos are bright and well-lit.

Landscape mode

The landscape mode setting thinks you will shoot a landscape and provides a depth of field. The more detailed differences are shown by its ability to introduce meaning to a photo.

Everything must have a purpose, especially when discussing landscape vs portrait. Landscape vs portrait may seem overwhelming, but there are a set of rules of thumb that can be used when choosing between the two of them (but is not limited to):

  • Subject: what does it look like? Will you be more focused on a single wide building, or will you frame it with its background to achieve better results?
  • Will your subject look good if taken in a portrait manner?
  • Background: Do you intend to use the background to give your picture a sense of more space? Are you not using a background to focus your audience’s attention on your main subject/focus?
  • Finally, meaning. This factor alone dictates which mode should be used and becomes an essential building block for future effects or editing.

Photographers often use landscape mode to create a sense of space. There are many more examples of what meanings can be attached to a photo.

What is a landscape photo?

To avoid unwanted confusion, a landscape is when the width of the image is wider than it is tall; it has a horizontal orientation.

What is a portrait photo?

A portrait is when an image's height is taller than its width; it has a vertical orientation

Landscape vs portrait is a touchy subject that sparks controversy. Some people do not accept ideas such as photographing a face using landscape mode. There are no set rules, but there are technical terms, such as counter-intuitive, that may hinder this creative process.

Yet it is possible that photography, in its essence, is all based on the photographer’s imagination and creativity. With the brief introduction out of the way, let’s explore this “landscape vs. portrait” problem further.

What is better, portrait or landscape?

Well, that is a hard question…

The better choice between landscape vs portrait is…

Both of them.

It is hard to admit, but both of these styles have their advantages. The landscape or portrait format is not strictly for some types of photography; you could use the landscape format to take an individual photo and vice versa.

It is remarkable to see how flexible it is to choose between the two styles. If the question were “Landscape vs. Portrait, which mode is better to capture the Alpen Mountains?” then the landscape mode would be more favorable.

The same thing could be applied in portrait vs landscape mode when taking a photo of the Eiffel Tower. Some people prefer using portrait mode, while others would choose the latter.

It is almost as if these modes are highly situational and can be adjusted based on your imagination and creativity. Although the settings for these modes are available in most DSLR cameras, we would still recommend learning how to set it up by yourself.

Should I take pictures in portrait or landscape?

From our thoughts above, you may assume that we would recommend you use both of them, right?


For beginners, using landscape is a safe bet because you are granted the freedom to crop the picture. However, there are some disadvantages, such as quality and its impact on your skill. If you choose to use portraits in most of your photos, it is okay. But the time will come for you to become a situational user of the portrait vs landscape mode.

It is very easy to fall into the trap of taking portraits, as that is the default mobile phone orientation. Always consider the possibility that you may want to get some prints in the future.

These may be more suited to landscape orientation, particularly if you hang them on the wall. We would then recommend switching between styles and finding which works best for you in specific environments.

Although there are some guidelines, they are still flexible and can be used or left alone. The battle of landscape vs. portrait will continue to rage as long as 2D flat photos are the norm. However, 360-degree 3D images will likely become the norm at some point in the future.

In the meantime, choosing between landscape or professional portrait formats should not restrict your creativity when taking photos. The following rules of thumb can be applied in most situations:

  • Portrait format is for singular photos, tall subjects, a small group of animals, or face portraits.
  • Landscape formats are commonly used for wide landscapes, large groups of subjects (animals, fish, etc.), or to fully capture an activity.

The unorthodox use of these formats may become a positive feature and add a deeper layer of the desired artistic meaning that every photographer seeks.

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